Published: April 29, 2021 By

See the technology in action

Researchers from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Materials Science and Engineering Program are among the authors of “Polymer inhibitors enable >900 cm2 dynamic windows based on reversible metal electrodeposition with high solar modulation” which appeared in the April issue of the highly prestigious science journal Nature Energy.

Dynamic windows that feature adjustable tint controls provide the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings by regulating the flow of light and heat passing through the glass. These windows can be of benefit to the environment, reduce heating and cooling costs and provide an increased level of comfort for building occupants.

The primary roadblock to the widespread implementation of this technology has been developing an affordable, scalable and fast-acting color-neutral tinting. The researchers behind the new paper believe their method of depositing responsive metal films may overcome this obstacle.

"These windows have the widest range of light transmission and most neutral color of any dynamic window technology,” said Professor Michael McGehee. “With their potential for low cost, I think they are destined to have a huge impact on the window industry.  They will save energy and make building spaces much more pleasant."

Their findings demonstrate that reversible metal electrodeposition—using polymer inhibitors—can effectively deposit responsive metal films in dynamic windows to reduce and reflect the passage of heat and light in under three minutes. This process increases the efficiency, uniformity, affordability and durability of the windows.

“There’s been tremendous activity around dynamic windows for decades but the existing technology has yet to really impact people’s lives,” said Michael Strand, one of the paper’s authors, who also wrote a blog post elucidating their research. “Our latest work is validation that what we have is truly exciting. It’s been a long road to get to where we are today with an even greater journey ahead, but we are eager to bring this technology to people all over the world."

The faculty from CU Boulder collaborated with researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Nevada - Reno and Stanford University.